tui la

Avatar The Last Airbender - Koi Fish Spirits - “Tui & La” [in Chinese:
推 & 拉. Tui means: Push. - La means: Pull.]


History
Thousands of years before the Hundred Year War, Tui and La decided to manifest themselves in the physical world to benefit mankind, taking up residence in an alcove in the Northern Water Tribe’s capital city. They created the oasis in the North Pole and took the form of two koi fish. Thus the Spirit Oasis in the city became its most treasured landmark.

“Because nothing is ever Black and White”

Sure, this is Tui and La without a doubt. It was made very clear in the show that these two spirits work in harmony to benefact mankind and represent the yin and yang energy in careful balance.

As a recent Zutara convert, though, I see the balance between the two individuals: ‘You rise with the moon. I rise with the sun.’
-Zuko

The firebending prince and his culture rely on the sun as the source of their power. They experience their strongest bending during the day, and thus represent the lighter koi.

Waterbending culture depend on the moon, a guardian of the night. Katara had many scenes highlighting her immense power at night. Therefore I see her as the darker koi.

Zuko and Katara balance each other well. Fire and water. Hot headed and level headed. Welcoming and guarded. They would make a dynamic couple that is stronger together than apart.

I tried to color each fish not strictly black and white grayscale, because nothing is ever truly one or the other. I tried to make each fish hint at thr character I had in mind. For the lighter fish representing Zuko, I tried to make it yellow/orange. And for the darker fish I wanted to show that is more deep blue than strictly black for our beloved waterbender.

Painted this digitally in about 4 hours when I should have been doing lab work. Relatively happy with it.

The legends say the moon was the first waterbender. Our ancestors saw how it pushed and pulled the tides and learned how to do it themselves. Our strength comes from the Spirit of the Moon; our life comes from the Spirit of the Ocean. They work together to keep balance

ZUTARA IS REAL

Okay so even if you don’t ship it, what I am about to say will be undeniably true.

First and foremost, katara treats everyone, EVERYONE in the group like a child that she mothers EXCEPT for Zuko.

When they were on ember island at the play, the phrase ‘avatar’s girl’ is spoken on stage and Aang nods proudly like he owns Katara, it’s possessive. When Katara tells him she needs time to think, because she doesn’t know what she wants, instead of respecting her wishes Aang kisses her out of no where because he thinks it’s his rite.

When Katara and Zuko go to see the southern raiders, he watches her blood bend a man without batting an eye. He doesn’t judge her when she can’t kill the murderer either, and after on the dock she basically ignores Aang and jumps into Zuko’s arms for a real affectionate hug.

When she hugs Aang it’s always rather hesitantly as if she is hugging a close friend, not a lover. When he goes into the avatar state after aapa is stolen, she hugs him because he needed it.

Her and Zuko have a hateful relationship up until the point of the cave in ba sing se, where she finally realizes he is hurting just as much as she is. She is even allowed to touch his scar which no one has done so far in the series. Even as she leaves with Aang, her eyes travel back to Zuko. Her heart breaks when she sees him fighting along side Azula, and that is why she is so guarded when he finally makes the right desicion and tries to join up. She doesn’t want to be hurt again because she has genuine affection for him.

When she meets Aang in the iceberg, he is just a goofy kid who likes to laugh. Once she realizes he is the avatar things change and the friendship begins. They travel the world together and become life long friends, but no where in any of the episodes does it show true attraction. Even in the cave of two lovers it was just coincidence that they got stick together, and even then Katara is only blushing awkwardly because it’s a first kiss, plus she only offered as an escape from the cave. When they first kiss on the invasion day it was almost an instinctual reaction. Aang didn’t know if he was going to die, and katara didn’t know if she’s ever see him again so they shared a special moment ‘just in case’ but that was it.

This show is all about balance, ying and yang, tui and la, light and dark, fire and water. Everything leading up to the final agni kai was all supposed to end differently. How Zuko attacked katara village and her multiple times. How he saved Aang as the blue spirit and freed aapa. How he betrayed her again at ba sing se and almost killed Aang, only to save them all from combustion man 'who he hired.’ How he helped her grieve her mother’s death in a way that no one else in the group could. Finally when he is beating Azula and sees blue sparks head towards katara, all that he has worked for, his honor, his throne, his nation, his life. He was willing to give all that up as he dove in front of the lightning. Yes he was trying to redirect it, but being in the air he was not grounded, and could have easily died. And in the end when he finally sees her face all he can say is 'thank you’ because for a moment he hasn’t decided if he is dead or not and if he is he is grateful that the first face he sees is her. And she should have pulled him into a hug before kissing him, and then she would fumble around awkwardly until she felt him brush her cheek, and pull her in for a slow warm kiss. They would have achieved balance, yin and yang, anger and kindness, introvert and extrovert, guarded and stoic vs open and cheerful, light and dark, fire and water.

To her Aang will always be that goofy kid in the iceberg, and maybe she does love him but it would be a fist love. The kind you get when you are 14 and meet a strange boy who isn’t from the tribe you have lived in your whole life and offers to take you away from your home to see the world. A love that never had any conflict, no hate and arguments or bad thoughts, the love of a perfect friend.

Then you have the love that has grown and molded and been shaped by both of your hand as both you and he seek redemption. Zuko was the enemy and everything she hated about the fire nation. In her eyes he was the reason her mother had to die, for people like him and then he redeems himself and she starts to feel her heart pulled to him by some unknown force, until she is touching his face in an affectionate way. And then all at once the tug is broken by and flash of lightning and she has to save the day, but as she flew away the tug may be gone but she can still feel the sensation in your heart. She hates him so much it feels like she could fire bend herself and then he’s there. All at once as he was standing before her she felt the tug again and quickly had to cut it herself, refusing to believe that he had changed. And then he gave her peace and all at once she stopped fighting it and let the tug pull her straight into his arms on the dock. And as she say him dive in front of lightning for her her heart stopped and didn’t beat until he was thanking her, and she pulled him into a kiss and the world finally found balance in 100 years.

Even going past the last air bender to legend of korra, we see that Aang favors his only air bending son Tenzin for his own selfish reasons, and when Zuko in all of his flaws and short comings hears that Izumi may be in trouble his first and only thought is to be by his daughters side to protect her. Loyalty vs selfish gains. You can argue that Aang would be excited to finally be the person who restarts the air benders so to speak, but at the sake of making your other children feel neglected just doesn’t seem like a fair trade.

Even if you don’t ship it, the show was originally supposed to end in zutara, and literally the ONLY reason they changed it, was because the “hero” should get the girl. They missed out on such a great opportunity to make it something completely different than any other story, and place the two that actually ment something together. But instead they gave Aang his 'prize’ which again, possessive.

4

This is my homage to the original benders (during the Era of the Avatar, of course since during the Era of Raava people would request bending abilities from the lion turtles). I always loved the fact that people learned bending from animals, since I know first-hand how much people can learn from observing animals. This is a project I’ve wanted to do for so long and is hopefully the first of many!

Now that it’s FINALLY healed, here’s the finished product! I have been waiting for this for an entire year and I am so so SO happy with how it turned out! 10 years ago I fell in love with Avatar and I figured this would be an awesome way to show my appreciation for bryankonietzko and michaeldantedimartino for creating this entire universe that I can indulge myself in. And a big thank you to Tanya for drawing up the original concept and Amy for the tattoo! Both of you ladies kick ass!

bryke ruined what could’ve been the greatest canon ship and that still makes me so angry. 

they have seen the worst in each other and accepted it. they trusted each other. they complimented each other. they respected each other. they didn’t put each other on a pedestal because they already knew neither one is perfect. they’re literally the physical embodiment of what the show had been metaphorically insinuating for 3 seasons: harmony between elements. the sun and the moon. tui and la. fire and water. 

just ugh